The Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ pending free agent list

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers exceeded expectations in 2019, finishing the year as Grey Cup champions following a 33-12 upset victory over the 15-3 Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

There is still plenty of partying happening in The Peg — the team’s Grey Cup parade is slated for Tuesday afternoon — but it’s never too early to look at which players are (and aren’t) under contract for next season.

Head coach Mike O’Shea is not under contract for next season, which is the team’s first key off-season task to address. Beyond that comes the list of players below who will be free agents unless they are re-signed prior to the deadline in February.

Quarterback

Matt Nichols (I)
Chris Streveler (I)
Zach Collaros (I)

Running back

Johnny Augustine (N)

Receiver

Darvin Adams (I)
Drew Wolitarsky (N)

Offensive line

Michael Couture (N)
Patrick Neufeld (N)
Stanley Bryant (I)
Jermarcus Hardrick (I)

Defensive line

Willie Jefferson (I)
Drake Nevis (I)
Craig Roh (I)
Jake Thomas (N)

Linebacker

Korey Jones (I)
Thomas Miles (N)

Defensive back

Chandler Fenner (I)
Jeff Hecht (N)
Derek Jones (N)
Mercy Maston (I)
Winston Rose (I)
Marcus Sayles (I)
Nick Taylor (I)

Specialists

None

Analysis

The obvious concern is at the quarterback position where Winnipeg’s three experienced pivots are all slated to hit the open market. Nichols and Collaros have experienced injury problems in recent years, while Streveler has yet to prove he can consistently be an effective passer.

That’s not to say all three quarterbacks aren’t valid options under centre. Nichols was 7-2 as a starter in 2019, Collaros was excellent in the post-season, and Streveler is the best running quarterback the CFL has seen in a generation.

Willie Jefferson is the next biggest name on the list after recording 12 sacks and six forced fumbles in 2019. The 28-year-old is the CFL’s reigning Most Outstanding Defensive Player and is arguably the league’s best pass rusher; needless to say, he’ll garner attention from other teams unless Winnipeg re-signs him.

The offensive line has been one of the Blue Bombers’ areas of strength for a number of years. Though young Canadians Cody Speller, Drew Desjarlais, and Geoff Gray remain under contract, a number of starters need to be re-signed. Couture, Neufeld, and Hardrick would all receive attention on the open market, as would two-time CFL Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Stanley Bryant.

Winston Rose, Marcus Sayles, and Darvin Adams are other key contributors who the Blue Bombers should work hard to re-sign. Rose and Sayles locked down the boundary side of Winnipeg’s secondary this season, while Adams’ production skyrocketed following the acquisition of Collaros.

Players who remain under contract for next season (and, in some cases, beyond) are signed through the following years.

QB Sean McGuire (I) — 2020
RB Andrew Harris (N) — 2020
RB Brady Oliveira (N) — 2021
FB Mike Miller (N) — 2020
FB John Rush (N) — 2020
REC Rasheed Bailey (I) — 2020
REC Nic Demski (N) — 2020
REC Kenny Lawler (I) — 2020
REC Daniel Petermann (N) — 2020
REC Lucky Whitehead (I) — 2020
OL Drew Desjarlais (N) — 2021
OL Tui Eli (N) — 2020
OL Geoff Gray (N) — 2020
OL Cody Speller (N) — 2020
DL Thiadric Hansen (G) — 2020
DL Jackson Jeffcoat (I) — 2020
DL Steven Richardson (I) — 2020
DL Jonathan Kongbo (N) — 2021
LB Adam Bighill (I) — 2021
LB Jesse Briggs (N) — 2020
LB Shayne Gauthier (N) — 2020
LB Kyrie Wilson (I) — 2020
DB Brandon Alexander (I) — 2020
DB Kerfalla Emmanuel Exumé (N) — 2020
DB Nick Hallett (N) — 2020
DB Mike Jones (I) — 2020
RET Janarion Grant (I) — 2020
K/P Justin Medlock (I) — 2020
LS Chad Rempel (N) — 2020

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